Thirty-two-year-old California mom, fitness enthusiast, and former beauty queen Maria Kang probably thought she was just posting some run-of-the-mill "fitspo" or fitspiration when she posted a photo of herself on Facebook. She was in a workout bra and booty shorts, flaunting her toned body, alongside her three little sons, then aged 3 years, 2 years, and 8 months, with the caption: "What's Your Excuse?" Instead, she started a comment war -- with many of the more than 12,000 responses to the photo being hateful accusations of fat-shaming.
People got even more bent out of shape when Kang posted what she calls a "non-apology" ...
I'm sorry you took an image and resonated with it in such a negative way. I won't go into details that I struggled with my genetics, had an eating disorder, work full time owning two businesses, have no nanny, am not naturally skinny and do not work as a personal trainer. What I WILL say is this. What you interpret is not MY fault. It's yours. The first step in owning your life, your body and your destiny is to OWN the thoughts that come out of your own head. I didn't create them. You created them. So if you want to continue 'hating' this image, get used to hating many other things for the rest of your life.
BRAVO to that! Although getting defensive probably wasn't the wisest move, Kang shouldn't have felt compelled to apologize at all. Nothing about her original post could be considered fat-shaming. She didn't say or even mean to portray something like, "You moms who don't work out are gross, lazy, fat asses." She was saying you can and should make fitness a part of your life even when you're a busy mom -- and she's not even the first mom to say that!
Jillian Michaels, who is notoriously tough on everyone for their excuses, told us back in April that even she has struggled with maintaining her fitness regimen since becoming a mom, but, at the same time, "it's a form of medicine, and if you want to have your best body, sure, you need to work out. And if you're eating well 80 percent of the time, then basically, you set yourself up for not having to work out as often. And then, when you do exercise, if you incorporate some key fitness techniques, you can make a half an hour count like it's 60."
That's exactly how I feel -- and I'm sure Kang feels -- about fitness. But when we see the picture of her with her little ones, bangin' body, and that in-your-face question, it's natural to react in an intense, potentially negative way, especially if you're not feeling so great about your own body. I'm sure that I'd feel very differently if I was currently feeling out of control with my own personal fitness goals. Of course our perspectives are colored by own unique challenges.
But as Jillian also told me, prioritizing fitness has to do with shifting our perspective. Realizing that dragging your ass to the gym or jumping on a treadmill during the baby's 20-minute nap doesn't necessarily have to be about trying to look like Kang. It can mean doing what you know you've gotta do to "be around for your daughter's daughter to be born. Or not being on the sidelines of your kid's life," as Jillian put it.
Personally, when I am a mom, I know finding a way to work out no matter on a regular basis will be integral to keeping me feeling good about myself and feeling good period. I have to keep my core strong, so my bad back doesn't give out on me when I'm lifting my baby. I have to boost my metabolism for sustainable energy to play and keep up with my baby. I'll have to work out to be a healthier, happier, better mom. Those are my motivations -- my reasons for avoiding excuses.
Which really makes me feel like by posting that photo, Kang didn't mean any harm; she just could have been a bit less abrasive. Instead of "What's your excuse?" maybe we all need to be asking ourselves "What's your motivation?"
How do you feel about Kang's photo and "non-apology"?